When you're shopping for mulch, there are a lot of options you'll come across. Some mulches are made from wood chips, some recycled paper, and others from ground-up corn cobs or pine needles. You may have heard that cypress is one of the best kinds of mulch to use in your garden because it's free of chemicals and will help improve the soil over time. But other people say that using cypress mulch can be bad for your plants and may even affect the quality of your soil.
This article will lay out all sides to this debate so you can make an informed choice about whether or not you want to use this type of mulch in your yard. Read on!.
What is Cypress Mulch?
Cypress mulch is made from the shredded wood of the cypress trees, bald cypress trees, and pond cypress trees. Home improvement stores and garden centers sell either 100 percent cypress mulch or a cypress mulch blend containing other types of woods.
Cypress mulch comes mainly from Central Florida and Louisiana, where it was a by-product of lumbering. The increasing demand for cypress mulch has put it under attack by the cypress mulch industry. All cypress mulch
Cypress mulch is often cheaper than hardwood mulch, but it's not environmentally and sustainable mulch. So, consider the pros and cons of using cypress mulch in your garden before you start using it.
Benefits of Cypress Mulch
Cypress mulch shares other benefits of cypress wood mulch. It prevents weed growth because weed seeds need light to germinate, and mulch keeps them in the dark. This mulch is an organic material used in landscaping and gardening and is a great mulch in deterring weeds. All organic mulches help the soil retain moisture, keep the soil cool and insulate plant roots during freezing temperatures. This mulch doesn’t only deter weeds, it also deters insects and reptiles.
Chips and Shredded
This mulch is made from pond cypress trees and bald cypress trees. Both the back and wood of the tree are ground up to make cypress mulch, and the mulch is available in either chips or shredded cypress. The shredded is the better choice than chips because it stays in place longer and composts faster. Shredded cypress mulch is also cost-effective, making the cypress mulch less expensive than other organic mulches.
Nutrients and Microbes
Cypress mulch decomposes to add nutrients to the soil, while some mulches such as shredded newspaper do not. Most plants benefit from these added nutrients from cypress mulch. Some organic mulches such as pine needles and pine bark change the soil pH as they decompose, thus adding acid to the soil and lowering the soil's pH. On the other hand, cypress mulch is neutral and doesn't change the soil's pH as it decomposes.
Cypress mulch is an attractive ground cover than other wood mulches such as pine bark, cedar bark, and shredded hardwood mulch. It also has a fresh, pleasant smell when it's fresh. Cypress mulch weathers to a soft, gray color, a property that is often considered a valuable attribute. While other mulches might blow away, cypress mulch, especially pine bark mulch, tends to float away after heavy rains. Therefore, it will not need to be reapplied, unlike other mulches.
Why Cypress Mulch is Bad
While cypress mulch has a lot of benefits, it's also a bad choice of mulching material due to the environmental impact of harvesting cypress trees and the detrimental effect this mulch can have in your yard.
The demand for this cypress has caused these trees to be harvested faster than they can grow. The continued harvesting of cypress trees for mulch is unsustainable and may decimate old-growth cypress forests.
One of the purposes of mulch is to help the ground retain moisture. This relieves you from watering your garden bed and protects the plants from the effects of drought. However, cypress isn't a good conveyor of water and moisture because it's very fibrous.
The mulch has a high capacity for holding water, preventing the available water from seeping below the mulch. When the cypress becomes dry, it repels water instead of absorbing it. This prevents water from reaching the ground below the mulch and the roots of the plants.
Cypress mulch tends to wash away more easily than other mulches. This makes it a bad choice in areas subject to heavy and frequent rains. When it's also saturated with water, it becomes heavy and does a better job staying in a place, making you replace it more frequently than other mulches.
Aesthetics and Acidity
Cypress mulch is also known for its unpleasant odor. Some people find it offensive, and others say it smells like rotting flesh. Cypress mulch is also very acidic. This can harm or even kill plants that are sensitive to acidity.
Alternatives to Cypress Mulch
There are several sustainable alternatives to cypress mulch. If you're looking for a long-lasting mulch, opt for a tree-based mulch such as pine trees, mixed hardwood mulch, and eucalyptus mulch. Like cypress mulch, these alternatives come from trees in the south and central Florida.
Eucalyptus is grown specifically for mulch, and the trees grow much quicker than other cypresses. Fortunately, the best mulch for your garden will depend on various factors, such as the needs of your green space, your visual preferences, and how much work you want to have in maintaining it.
FAQs about Cypress Mulch
Is cypress mulch better than regular mulch?
Cypress mulch is better because it's less expensive than many other organic mulches, and it adds a lot of benefits to the soil. Also, all old-growth cypress groves have been clear cut and what is left is under attack by the cypress mulch industry.
Final Thought about Cypress Mulch
As you can see, cypress mulch isn't always better. It's sometimes worse, but it is what some gardeners prefer. If you are looking to care for your plants by protecting them from certain insects or weed growth, cypress mulch may be the way to go, but if you want something more sustainable, look for other types.